Ernst Billgren: 10 200
Galerie Forsblom Stockholm
January 18–February 15, 2019
Opening in the presence of the artist, January 17, 5–7 pm
Ernst Billgren is one of Sweden's most appreciated and recognized artists. With a unique artistic approach, he has continuously reinvented himself throughout his career. Familiar motifs deriving from art history, such as landscapes and wild animals, recurs in his paintings. Mythological themes as well as humoristic and satirical elements are also present in his works. Billgren challenges the distinction between high and low, good and bad, through the means of art.
Exploring the importance of the ego and artistic expression, Billgren also created art as his alter ego Wilhem von Kröckert, questioning his own identity. What is art and where do the motifs stem from? What is Ernst Billgren’s signature trait? Where do our preferences, choices and taste originate from? What might be socially conditioned and what is due to genetics? Questions like these are examined in Billgren's practice. The exhibition at Galerie Forsblom shows a continuation of Billgren‘s previous body of works. It's not just Billgren nor von Kröckert, but rather the work of a single artist where elements of them both are present. The works are spontaneous, without the use of other reference images, aiming to disconnect from the outside world and to channel imagery from within. Billgren examines his possibilities as an artist and explores the pre-existing conditions. Like a director he exposes himself to situations and challenges the creative process.
A recurring motif in the works is a city landscape, seemingly deserted except for a few animals and characters. Is it a utopia or a dystopia, a premonition? Other themes are dream-like and otherworldly. The paintings are rich in detail, with distinctive brush strokes and a flow of light alluding to the dusk in a Turner painting. References to art history appear albeit unintentional – it is the art itself that is significant.
Billgren is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice extends to painting, sculpture, scenography and writing. Born in Stockholm in 1957, he has studied at Akademin Valand in Gothenburg and at Birkagården in Stockholm, Sweden. He has exhibited extensively in Sweden as well as internationally and his work is included in prominent public collections such as the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland and the National Museum of Art, Oslo, Norway.